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Fiona Banner: Font

September 17, 2015 by Mary

18 September – 31 October 2015
Private View: Thursday 17 September 6-8pm
Frith Street Gallery, Golden Square; 17-18 Golden Square, London W1F 9JJ

British artist Fiona Banner designed a new font, titled Font.


Press release – Banner’s font is an amalgamation of typefaces she has worked with previously, through full stop sculptures and typeset and published works.

It’s a family tree arrangement where the child of Avant Garde and Courier mates with Peanuts and Didot’s child. Bookman and Onyx mate; their child mates with Capitalist and Klang’s offspring – the final font is an unpredictable bastardisation of styles and behaviours. – Fiona Banner

Font was conceived during the artist’s attempt to survey her practice, in preparation for this exhibition and her first survey exhibition, forthcoming at Ikon, Birmingham. She deploys it as the font for the Ikon exhibition and it appears here, forming a link between the two.

The attempt to survey is also a theme in Banner’s new film Harrier which features the artist’s most recent publication, an illustrated reprint of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In this film a drone camera simultaneously observes and harries the book like a hawk chasing down its prey. As the drone attempts to focus on the text and images, the downdraught from its blades blow the pages back and forth in an endless fluttering dance. The publication under scrutiny takes the form of a glossy magazine bringing to mind notions of luxury and desire. Here the text is paired with images of the City of London that Banner commissioned from Magnum conflict photographer Paolo Pellegrin. The book also contains Banner’s drawings depicting close-ups of pinstripe, a play on the livery and camouflage of the Square Mile.

A second video shows two fan-operated windsocks rising and falling as if in an animated discourse with one another. They become expressive characters humorously reflecting on the theatre of the gallery space.

Performance is also referenced in the long raised platform that runs the length of the gallery, evoking the architecture of fashion shows. In this case the catwalk is stage to a graphite drawing on canvas where pinstripe patterning morphs into runway markings.

Pinstripe appears again as an adornment in the sculptural drawing Nose Art which sees two Harrier Jump-Jet nose cones fixed high on the wall. The term ‘Nose Art’ refers to a military form of folk art, where aircraft are graffitied often with popular cultural icons. Banner sees the nose cone as the most heroic part of an aircraft, in this piece they are reminiscent of hunting trophies or breasts.

A found 19th Century baptismal font partially obstructs the entrance/exit to the gallery, engraved with the word ‘font’ it creates a playful slippage between naming, language and object/image; a recurrent theme in Banner’s work.

Fiona Banner was born in Merseyside in 1966. She studied at Kingston Polytechnic and Goldsmith’s College London. Her exhibition Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling runs at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham 10 October 2015 – 17 January 2016. This exhibition is accompanied by a major new artist’s book of the same title.

Heart of Darkness will be co-published by Banner’s imprint The Vanity Press and Four Corners Books on 9 September 2015. This publication has its origins in an invitation to create a show of works drawn from the Archive of Modern Conflict, a major collection of photographs and ephemera relating to war and conflict, in 2012. After researching the archive Banner observed a lack of images relating to here and now. In a reversal of roles she commissioned Paolo Pellegrin, a conflict photographer who has worked extensively in the Congo, to observe the City through Conrad’s text. . A selection of these images now form part of the Archive, they can be found filed under ‘Heart of Darkness, 2014’. These images formed the basis of Banner’s exhibition, Mistah Kurtz – He Not Dead at Peer, London in 2014.

Banner first referenced Heart of Darkness in her work ‘Apocalypse Now’, 1996 – which was based on the Coppola film of the same name which had used Conrad’s novel as its narrative framework – and then subsequently in her first artist’s book THENAM, 1997.

The Type-face Font will be available to download on from 17 September.